August 16, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 16 - STALIN TURNS HIS BACK ON WARSAW

Polish forces in the Old Town have taken a drastic toll. Casualties have been very high. There are now fewer than 5,000 insurgents trying to defend an area of 10 square kilometers. The battleground has shifted dramatically in the course of the past two weeks. On August 1st it covered an area of about 140 square kilometres (54 square miles).

Since morning the Old Town has been hit with a continuous barrage of artillery and mortar fire and the Germans managed to seize the Canonesses Convent in Teatralny Square. Attempts by the Poles to retake the building have failed. Maj. Mieczysław Chyżynski “Pelka” has fought back strong enemy attacks on the State Securities Plant on Sanguszki Street from Rybaki and Zakroczymska Streets. Polish resistance is very strong and the German attack has collapsed at the fiercely defended barricades at the entries to Podwale, Piwna, and Swietojanska Streets.

During the night, "Czata 49" and "Zoska" battallions launched an attack to join troops marching in from the Kampinos Forest.  The "Czata 49" battalion pushed the Germans back from Stawki Street and held its positions for three hours. But the attack launched by the "Zoska" battalion in the neigborhood of Nalewski Street failed.

Czata 49 Battalion

Major Alfons Kotowski "Okon" arrived in the vicinity of Laski to take over command of the Kampinos Forest troops and organize relief for Warsaw. German forces continue to attack northern Srodmiescie, and have seized control of the Water Filters Station where they have blocked the water supply network.

Tadeusz Gajcy 'Topor'
Famous poet and AK soldier Tadeusz Gajcy 'Topor' was killed in action today and perished on Leszno Street. He was the co-founder and editor of the literary magazine Sztuka i Narod and he was notable for having been a founding member of the underground press in 1942. He is remembered for his fervent contributions as member of the Generation of Columbuses. It is a term relegated to the entire generation of Poles who were born after 1918. During this period their youth was in essence the “discovery of Poland” at a time in which Poland finally regained independence and statehood after 123 years of oblivion. It spurred an entire generation with the mission to fight against foreign occupation. Also killed was his friend, also a poet, Cadet Zdislaw Leon Stoinski "Chmura".

While the fighting rages on, British and Polish authorities continue diplomatic discourse over the war. Ambassador Raczynski has issued a reply to a letter he received just yesterday from the British Government. Addressing it to Sir Orme Sargent of the British Foreign Office, as well as Mr. Eden. Raczynski stated that Soviet radio had on several occasions made appeals to the Polish nation to rise up against the Germans, their latest appeal having been made just three days before the Uprising took place. Despite British claims to the contrary, Prime Minister Mikolajczyk and the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tadeusz Romer vigorously contend that the Polish Government had indeed properly informed His Majesty’s Government that actions were to be taken by the Polish Home Army against the Germans in Warsaw. The Polish Government has been criticized by Britain, as well as by the Soviet Government for not having established prior notification before the start of the Uprising.

Adam Aston - Warsaw Melody (Powstanie Warszawskie) 1944 (00:03:47m)

The Red Army appears to have stopped its assault on Warsaw. There is considerable speculation as to the reasons for this sudden change. Certain sources have indicated that it is a calculated tactic by Stalin to allow the German forces to destroy the Warsaw insurgents who are loyal to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London and consequently hostile to Stalin’s overtures.
Soviet soliders near the Vistula River
Just a little over two weeks ago, the Soviet Army had reached the outskirts of the beleaguered city. The 1st Belorussian Front had taken part in the Lublin-Brest Operation from mid-July to early August with the mission to clear central-eastern Poland of Nazi German forces. They also took part Operation Lvov-Sandomierz and Operation Bagration during which Soviet forces succeeded in completely destroying large numbers of German units. In desperation German forces have attempted to assemble reinforcements to hold the line of the Vistula River.

Soviet tanks Operation Bagration
 American WW2 poster
 promoting US and USSR alliance
The Vistula is the last river barrier which remains separating the Soviet and German armies. However, the few panzer and SS divisions assembled in haste are notably inferior to that of the Soviet war machine. The Soviet armies have planned to seize bridgeheads across the Vistula and Narew rivers from which they will launch offensives and resupply their units. Though Warsaw is right at the limit of the planned Soviet advance, the Soviets do not consider it an essential in their strategy. Instead, they have already seized several important bridgeheads to the south of Warsaw and are defending them ferociously against German counterattacks. Stalin has notified Prime Ministers Churchill and Mikolajczyk that the Soviet government intends to dissociate themselves from the "Warsaw disturbance". Lt. John Ward, a British soldier, and member of the AK has dispatched messages again today to London reporting on the days events in Warsaw. The message reads as follows:
Lt. John Ward
The Germans in Warsaw are making a great deal of damage with mine-throwers. They are using half explosive material, half incendiary. Result is the explosive makes huge holes in the wall and the incendiary material sets fire to the houses. Many of the finest buildings in Warsaw have been destroyed in this manner. Casualties among the civil population are heavy. Practically every house in Warsaw that is not burned out has its allotment of refugees. Many thousands of people have not only lost their homes but also all they possessed. All refugees are received as guests. Often they arrive one day in a house and a few hours later they must look for a new home because that one too is set on fire or bombed out.

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